Holo holo on the Big Island of Hawai’i? It’s traditional to start in Hilo

1 08 2009

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i.  Mehana means the warmth of the sun.  The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the second post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #2. When on holo holo time on the Big Island, it’s traditional to start in Hilo

There is a traditional travel route around the Big Island of Hawai’i, described in the mele, Hilo Hanakahi by Keola Naumu. The song starts in Hilo and (more or less) circumnavigates the Big Island in a clockwise direction. From Hilo, the mele goes on to describe Puna, then Ka’u, then Kona, and so forth.

The video embedded below is a vintage 1928 recording of traditional Hawaiian falsetto singing that MC Productions has illustrated.

Here is a link to the lyrics of the traditional mele, which has many more verses.

The Big Island Tourist Board has put together a beautifully shot video to accompany Hilo Hanakahi. The tour stops are in a slightly different order from the traditional mele, but the bottom line is the same. The traditional approach to a Big Island Visit is to start in Hilo!

If the song, Hilo Hanakahi, resonates with you, check out the many different versions available on iTunes: I like these wildly different versions by the artists:

  • Henry Kapono (wild!)
  • Kevin Kealoha (gentle)

gnomeBut let’s say you are, like the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, going to be on the Big Island for only one day. Again, it makes sense to start in Hilo.

Here’s why? You’ve gone to all the way to the middle of the Pacific ocean to experience the natural beauty of Hawai’i, right? So, if you want to be one with nature, it makes sense to follow the sun.

To follow the sun, you would start in the east side of the Big Island in the morning, and end up on the west side to watch the sun set.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Again, traditional Hawaiian music can be your guide.

Are there any authentic Hawiian songs about Hilo sunsets? No! There is such a song available on iTunes, but it is a calypso!

On the Big Island of Hawai’i, local artists are always singing about the Kona sunset. My favorite song is called Kona Sunset (as opposed to Sunset over Kona, which is a modern instrumental).

And, because of the immeasurable beauty of the Kona sunsets, there are at least three versions of the song, Kona Sunset — different songs with different lyrics, not just different covers of the same thing.

  • A traditional Hawaiian take on Kona Sunset by the Big Island’s own Aunty Diana Aki, the songbird of Miloli’i, from her album, Kalihi, which you can preview at Mele.com. This album also includes Aunty Diana’s Hilo Hanakahi and I Love You, Hilo.
  • A more modern but equally Hawaiian approach to Kona Sunset by the Big Island’s own John Keawe, from his album, Aloha Kaikau’ana, which you can also preview at Mele.com
  • A paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) version of Kona Sunset by Liwai Kuheana is available at Amazon.com

Wherever you start your journey, we hope you enjoy your holo holo time on the Big Island of Hawai’i.   Hope you make it to Hilo, the fairest little city on the Pacific Ocean.





One response

2 08 2009
Damon Tucker

To bad folks weren’t allowed to take beer on airplanes.

I could see turning Hawaii Nui Brew into a “Mecca of tourism” similar to Big Island Candy if only folks could bring beer home with them in their suit cases.

Stop off… have a free taste… and then go back to Japan/Germany/etc. with a 6-Pack and a bunch of pictures of the inside of the brewery.

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